Australia isn’t known for punk. Notorious hard-partiers Heroes For Hire are on a mission to change all that. These are their first UK dates since dumping Brad Smith and promoting guitarist and backing singer Duane Hazell to frontman duties. It seemed something of an acrimonious split which rankled many of their fans, so it was interesting to see how the new-look line-up would go down tonight. The faithful needn’t have worried. Hazell sounded as if he had been singing these songs the entire time which, of course, some may argue he has. New single Hate Myself Again was well-received, but it was encore Secrets, Lies & Sins that really stole the show. Onwards and upwards for these guys, it seems.
Crowd primed, Chicago pop punks Allister took the stage in London for the first time in seven years, and before they even played a note the place started going nuts. Since being one of the first bands signed to Drive Thru Records back in ’96 the band have experienced their share of up’s and down’s, but it’s great to see that the enthusiasm of Scott Murphy and co. hasn’t waned in the slightest. They love what they do, and the fans feed off it. Keeping up the recent trend of bands revisiting pivotal moments in their career to perform landmark albums in their entirety, this show promised 2002’s Last Stop Suburbia from front to back. Some of the excitement factor is obviously sacrificed, because with these types of show you know what’s coming next roughly 75% of the time. But when a band is this energetic and the material this strong, it hardly matters. Who can believe it’s been over a decade since Allister released that solid slab of skate punk? Nothing has changed that much. You still can’t hear these songs without smiling.
True to their word, after kicking off with the immortal Scratch, the band ripped through the other fifteen tracks on the album without so much as taking a breath, right up to and including a ferocious None of My Friends Are Punks. Personal highlights along the way included Flypaper, Somewhere on Fullerton and Know it All. There were numerous times during the evening when the crowd took over singing duties, virtually drowning out Murphy and co-singer Tim Rogner, a sure sign of a great chorus if ever there was one. LSS put through its paces, near the end of the evening Allister took us through a few old classics, and a tune or two from their most recent album, last year’s Life Behind Machines, including the lead-off track Five Years, another classic in the making. Who knows? Maybe in a decade we’ll get to see Allister on these shores again, performing Life Behind Machines in its entirety. If that happens, I hope they keep some space in the set for a couple of Suburbia tunes.